Labour was celebrating a clean sweep in three parliamentary by-elections in Rotherham, Middlesbrough and Croydon North today.

But the celebrations were maybe bigger at the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which took second place in the two northern seats and recorded its best ever by-election result in Rotherham, where its candidate secured 21 per cent of the vote.

Leader of UKIP Nigel Farage said: "This is UKIP's most impressive result in Westminster elections so far.

"Jane Collins' 21 per cent in Rotherham was our best ever score and this is backed up by 11 per cent in Middlesbrough and coming third in Croydon North. This follows our stunning result in Corby a few weeks ago.

"The political establishment is just going to have to wake up to the fact that Ukip is here and here to stay as a significant and rising mainstream part of British politics."

It was a dismal night for both coalition parties, with the Conservatives slumping to fourth in Middlesbrough and fifth in Rotherham.